They say motherhood changes you. “They” say a lot of things, but they seem to have this one right.
It isn’t like it was totally unexpected. I had read Deborah Copaken Kogan’s memoir of going from hard boiled photojournalist on the frontlines of news to a woman all but completely immersed in the “mommy wars.” And I’d read Alice Flaherty’s The Midnight Disease, which includes a candid discussion of her post-partum hypergraphia. I felt like I knew the risks.
(Do you ever really know the risks?)
My risks turned out to hit very close to my heart.* For one–this is perhaps the least life changing–it altered my perspective on the books I read. Children’s books had been my chosen career for years before I had a child, but once I became a mother, the stories had a new life. I was not only in the young protagonist’s perspective, but I also keenly felt the mom’s point of view even if it wasn’t strongly present in the story. Teen novels, in particular, often delve into mother-daughter relationships in ways that can be hard for me to read.
Bitter End by Jennifer Brown didn’t even get into mother-daughter drama, and I still struggled with it. For those not familiar with the book, it is the story of a teen girl in an abusive relationship. As I read, I kept thinking how unrealistic it was. She’s a smart girl with strong friendships. It wouldn’t happen to her. Or, at least, it wouldn’t happen that quickly. Eventually, I had to admit to myself that it wasn’t that the book was unrealistic. I didn’t want it to be real.
Books were the least of the changes though. I wrote about some of the other changes in a zine (pictured right with another zine) called Will There Be Smoking? and other questions. I’ll be selling this zine and others tonight at the second installment of a summer music series called Genrebeast, which brings together a diverse lineup of musicians.
If you can’t catch the show tonight, I will be participating the the Twin Cities Zine Fest in September. Be sure to mark your calendar.
*I am not remotely implying that motherhood isn’t worth it. It is. The zine actually focuses on what was a difficult but very positive change.